Nelson Rudiak

Local musician’s rendition of classic in Hall of Fame collection

Published Jun 6, 2018 at 4:10pm

Area musician and baseball fan Nelson Rudiak was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown last month, when his recording of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was added to the Hall’s PASTIME digital collection.

“It’s pretty humbling,” said Rudiak, who recorded a rendition of the ballpark classic in memory of a close friend and fellow baseball fan who passed away in March of 2016.

Rudiak was inspired to record the song at his home studio in June of that year, after friends and family of the deceased sang the song at memorial services.

In the process of arranging and recording the tune, Rudiak became familiar with the song’s
historical context.

“It was actually written by two guys who had never been to a baseball game, at the time,” Rudiak explained.

The song also has a traditional association with the Chicago Cubs, the once ill-fated club from the Windy City, as the team is known to invite celebrities to lead the crowd in a sing along during the seventh inning stretch.

It was this connection that
led Rudiak to remember his rendition during the 2016 World Series, in which the Cubs won their first championship since 1908.

Rudiak reached out to an old friend and colleague, Roger Lansing, a multi-media production manager at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He asked that Lansing play his rendition during the Hall’s public viewing of a World Series game, expecting his time in the sun would end with the seventh inning stretch.

Instead, Lansing recommended Rudiak’s tune for preservation in the PASTIME collection, the Hall of Fame’s permanent digital online archive of artifacts.

The recording, said Rudiak, was officially available on the Hall’s PASTIME web page beginning in April.

“It’s a dream come true,” says Rudiak. “Hard to believe I got in before Mariano (Rivera) and (Derek) Jeter,” added the Yankee fan. “It’s just not something you’d expect.”

To hear Rudiak’s rendition or to browse the Baseball Hall of Fame’s PASTIME collection, visit collection.baseball.org.

A Rome resident of 20 years, Rudiak came to the area in the early 1990s from his native New Jersey when he joined WOUR in Utica as a co-host of the morning show under the stage name Mark Nelson.

He is primarily a saxophonist, and has recorded two solo albums, “Almost Done” (2004) and “Winnipegosis” ( 2011).

Currently, Rudiak plays with Midnite Mike and Bent Blinds, who will appear at Barneveld’s Unity Hall on Friday, June 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at unityhall.com.

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has been dedicated to preserving the history of the sport for more than 75 years. It is located at 25 Main St. in Cooperstown. It is open daily from
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Labor Day. For information, go online to https://baseballhall.org.